People often take little liberties in how they answer questions or speak to one another. For example, if your boss asks how many hours per week you spend actively working, you don’t want to admit that you spend an hour checking social media at your desk every day, so you give a roundabout answer.
You consider that a white lie because you still get your work done. The idea behind a white lie is that sometimes telling an untruth is harmless or even benefits someone. However, any sort of lie or misrepresentation during a discussion with federal investigators or law enforcement professionals could lead to charges against you.
Many fraud-related charges come from lies in interviews
It is not easy to conclusively prove that someone played a role in a white-collar crime or a criminal conspiracy. Investigators sometimes have to use creative approaches to bring someone to justice, a process which often means using their own words against them. An interrogation or even a casual conversation with federal investigators could directly lead to charges against you.
Those accused of some kind of criminal misconduct often faced charges not because law enforcement conclusively proved that they broke the law but rather because they omitted information or lied to investigators during an interrogation or casual conversation.
What you say during an investigation can have long-term implications on your legal rights. Any small misstep could be a violation of the False Statements Accountability Act, which is one reason why many people would benefit from having professional assistance during those conversations with federal authorities.
Investigators can make you look like a liar even if you didn’t plan to lie
You don’t have to tell an outright falsehood to face charges of obstruction or lying to investigators. Obviously, openly lying to federal investigators about your whereabouts at a certain time or your relationship with an individual could lead to criminal consequences.
However, mistakes, inconsistencies and contradictions during your discussion with those investigators could also lead to charges. Law enforcement professionals may intentionally ask you leading questions to get you to make a statement that makes you look guilty. They might ask you the same question or similar questions multiple times so that it seems like you contradicted yourself and, therefore, lied to them.
Understanding the risks during an interaction with federal investigators could help you avoid serious criminal consequences.